Neckartal Dam inaugurated

16 March 2020 | Infrastructure

The N$5.6 billion Neckartal Dam was officially handed over to the government last week by the contractor, Salini Impregilo.

Speaking at the handover, Vice-president Nangolo Mbumba said the dam would in future serve as a catalyst of food security.

“The essence of this dam ought to be seen in the bigger scheme of things; that of enabling and being a catalyst for water security, a catalyst of food security, a catalyst for sport and recreation, a catalyst for energy generation, a catalyst for research and development, a catalyst for industrialisation and job creation,” he said.

He said the primary purpose of the Neckartal Dam is to store the floodwater of the Fish River during the rainy season.

“Such water will be used for a 5 000-hectare irrigation project where the cultivation of lucerne, table grapes, dates and other cash crops or fruits and vegetables will be planted or grown,” he said.

“The dam is envisaged to have other secondary benefits for tourism and water sports. This will contribute immensely to the much-needed direct job creation and positively stimulate economic growth in Keetmanshoop and surrounding areas as well as contributing to water security, food self-sufficiency, and food and nutrition security for the //Karas Region in particular and Namibia in general,” he added.

Mbumba pointed out that the dam would also encompass a hydropower scheme which is expected to generate 3.5 megawatts of power per hour.

//Karas region governor Lucia Basson welcomed the project but asked the government to speed up work to finalise the planned irrigation scheme.

“This project with the construction of the dam had a huge impact on the people of the //Karas Region. The expectations of the people are now very high.

I will be very happy if the irrigation project kicks off. The water should not just be in the dam, it must be used for the irrigation project,” she said.

Basson also defended the construction of the dam, saying it would benefit the arid //Karas Region.

“I have been defending this project against critics who charged that it was senseless to construct the dam, the biggest in the country, in a region as arid as //Karas. For decades, water that was just passing by and causing a lot of damage or just got wasted can now be put to good use.”

The dam will be handed over to NamWater at a later stage, said the executive director in the ministry of agriculture, water and forestry, Percy Misika. According to him, the water levels must first reach 45 metres while mechanical and electrical testing of facilities must be completed.

The dam is currently on 10.5% full, he pointed out when asked about its capacity.

The dam is the largest in Namibia and when full it will have a storage volume of 857 million cubic metres of water. The dam will stretch more than 38 kilometres upstream and has a circumference, at full capacity, of more than 290 kilometres.

The government spent N$5.5 billion on the construction of the dam. A further N$1.3 million was spent to acquire land meant for the irrigation project. The land will soon be registered with the Deeds Office in the ministry of lands and resettlement, Misika added.

OGONE TLHAGE

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